Updated: Here are 6 new screencast demos highlighting the basic features of Simple Intranet. More videos will be added in the future to our Support section, Plugin Video Demos.
I get a lot of requests from clients looking to me to build them the perfect intranet that does it all with a long list of features. More often than not, however, there are only really a handful of features that actually get used (I know, I see the Google Analytics reports in the backend!). Often intranets arise from the realization that a company isn’t communicating between remote employees or offices very well, or management decrees that company information needs to be shared better. Really, intranets are all about what employees want, since they are the majority of the users (vs management).
Employees want to find and connect with other employees and get timely information to get their jobs done. They also want to get paid, and have the HR tools available to receive benefits that they are entitled to. It’s a given that an intranet must be secure, and easily accessible by employees, and above all easy to use. There are lists of other features requested, such as a collaboration, project or document management tools, but these often are not core to 95% of most intranet activities. Here’s my top 5 for the most common features requested below;
1) Employee Photo Directory
An intranet is all about people, and most importantly for many, finding people in your company to help you do your job. Most of the time you need their email address, or phone extension to check with legal or product marketing for resolving a quick issue. Most want to search by name to get a quick listing of contact details. The clear benefit of a well organized employee listing is accessing information from the right person to achieve your job responsibilities. Interestingly, one of the most handy features of an employee directory is knowing if a person is out of the office or on vacation. Also, employee photos are key, since many people like to put a face to a name. There is nothing worse that leaving a voice-mail or email with someone and waiting 3 days before you realize they were on vacation and forget to turn on an out of office alert!
2) Content & File Repository
Employees need to be able to find content to help them do their jobs. That may include sales or marketing tools, HR guidelines or legal policies and procedures, concerning what can or can not be said about a product for example. Having a powerful search function for content is key, and allowing tagging of content to sort and display available items is useful. At the end of the day, the top activity on an intranet is uploading or downloading content. Making content fun and interesting is important so that it actually gets read and passed around. Allowing comments below content is a great way to add interaction with it. Keeping content fresh and removing old content is always important, so having a system of reviewing or purging old items is a good idea.
Photos, contests, staff interviews, recognition awards and polls are common elements of frequently read content. Always hook up Google Analytics or similar tracking to your intranet to measure what is hot and what is not. Also, it’s a given these days that your intranet must be mobile friendly, especially for remote staff or sales. Intranet sites that show menus and content dynamically down the screen of a smartphone will be more likely used and effective for road-warrior employees.
3) Forms, Forms, Foooorms!
HR forms are vital to an intranet that will actually be used. Employees are above all concerned with getting compensated and managing their benefits. Forms for employee health benefits, expense claims and maternity/leave requests are always the most trafficked areas of the intranet. Having forms that can be filled out online and that offer sortable reports for viewing and download is a huge time saver for the HR Manager.
4) Real-time Activity Feeds
All the buzz around “social media” really boils down to real-time commenting. Think Facebook’s “What’s on your mind” applied to the work environment, which could be “What are you working on?” (see our demo). Giving employees free reign to post comments (can be moderated by an administrator) empowers them to share what they are working on. Allowing workers to give shout-outs to colleagues who have helped them or gone above and beyond is a great tool for boosting morale and offering recognition. Also, management can post real-time updates on corporate events, employee issues or turn-over, which is more on a Twitter-like instant time schedule and avoids that “did you get the memo?” scenario.
5) Interactive Tools
Keeping employees engaged with an intranet means that they want opportunities to interact with it. An event calender that updates employees on upcoming events, staff meetings, key launch dates or promotions is always frequently viewed. Posting a survey to poll employee interest or feedback on corporate initiatives or event pending product launches provides instant feedback for management decision making. Making content more interactive with a wiki approach (think wikipedia.org) where it is editable by those with specific permissions can help keep content current.
Thank you for purchasing access to our suite of intranet-related plugins. Please note that you will need to install WordPress.org on your own server first before installing our plugin. We only provide intranet-related WordPress plugins and do not offer hosting services. You will need to be “self-hosting” your site on a domain that you register (e.g. yourcompany.com) or subdomain (intranet.yourcompany.com). If you need a host, we highly recommend signing up for an account at Dreamhost who is the leader in WordPress hosting and has an easy one-click WordPress installation.
Once you have WordPress installed on a web host, you will want to start with downloading any of our Simple Intranet zip plugin files to your computer. You may also want to duplicate our demo site as per details further below to speed up creating your intranet.
UPDATE: for more detailed steps on configuring our core Simple Intranet plugin with an activity feed, directory, calendar and forms, please click here.
Here is a quick primer on the installation and setup for installing one of our plugin-ins, starting with the core Simple Intranet plugin which contains most of the features you will want right away (Employee Directory, Calendar, Forms and the Activity Feed).
Our plugins are theme independent and should work with the vast majority of themes. You can download a theme from WordPress.org or choose a pre-installed theme from the Dashboard / Appearance menu of your WordPress site or simply use the default theme loaded with WordPress. Clients like themes such as Responsive (free) or StudioPress Enterprise or Corporate (paid). You can also download our demo which from the Members area, which is the child theme of a modified 2012 WordPress default theme. Many clients also like the StudioPress Corporate or Enterprise themes.
NOTE: PLEASE don’t add every single plugin we offer! Most clients only add 5 to 10 plugins on average. Adding more than a dozen plugins will slow down your site considerably and likely cause conflicts and various features not to function! You can always add other plugins from WordPress.org as well, but again, do be careful and introduce them one by one and test for conflicts or problems.
Duplicate Our Demo In 5 Minutes!
To save you time setting up your intranet, we have preloaded a suggested demo site using the Twenty Sixteen free theme with our top 10 most popular plugins pre-configured with suggested menus, shortcodes and widgets. You will first need to download the free Duplicator plugin to get started. Then follow their instructions in their plugin’s Duplicator / Help menu by uploading the 2 files below to the same directory you installed WordPress in. Visit their site or post to their forum with any issues. NOTE: Some servers/hosts may not work with Duplicator.
You will then find these 2 files below in the Members area which you need to download;
- Installer File – rename from installer.txt to installer.php
- Demo Archive File – approximately 26 MB
1. Visit the paid Members area (www.simpleintranet.org/members) and login using your payment e-mail as your username (click the “Forget password?” link if required). Within 15 minutes or so of your purchase, your member e-mail and password will have been sent to you (but often can be filtered so check your SPAM/Junk folder, or use “Forget Password?” link). Download and unzip the Simple Intranet core plugin or other optional plugins to your computer. Note that the Simple Intranet core plugin is VERY LARGE and may exceed your default memory limit which you may need to change to avoid a white screen error or other issues (ask your webhost if stuck). You can raise your memory limit by editing the wp-config.php file in the root folder of your WordPress installation and add “define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);”(no quotes) to the last line. IMPORTANT! Deactivate & delete the free Simple Intranet Directory plugin if installed. Errors will result if both free and paid versions are active.
2. Login as an admin to your WordPress Dashboard, and visit the “Plugins / Add New” menu on the left hand size. Click on the “Upload” tab at the top and “Choose File” to select the simple-intranet.zip file (or similar with version # in the file name).
Developers option: Copy/extract and upload the files via FTP or your HTML editor to the “wp-content” directory of your WordPress.org installation. The plugin goes in the “/plugins” directory. Note, given the large size of the Simple Intranet plugin (5 MB zipped and approx 15 MB unzipped), you often can’t use the Dashboard zip file upload function provided by WordPress. You may in this case need to upload directly via FTP or reset your file upload limit which can be done in any one of your wp-config.php, .htaccess or php.ini files – please Google “increase file upload limit WordPress” for details.
3. You may also need to activate the Simple Intranet plugin in the “Plugins” area of the Dashboard.
4. You will now see a new menu called “Simple Intranet / Simple Intranet” in your Dashboard. Visit it for the latest instructions on how to set up forms, calendars, activity feeds and more. Some other tips are below, but we encourage you to search our site use the Search box in the top right of this page, review our FAQs in our Support section and read relevant blog posts.
- To password protect your entire WordPress site behind a login (which is recommended), go to Dashboard / Groups and at the bottom under the Private Site heading, check the box next to “Redirect all logged-out users to the login page before allowing them to view the site.” if not already checked.
- It is advised that you name pages after their post names (vs IDs), so go to “Settings / Permalinks” in the Dashboard and select “Post name” under Common Settings.
- You will need to go to Settings / Reading or Appearance / Theme / Customize (depending on your theme) and under Static Front Page, select a page that you create to show the Activity Feed. Note that the plugin saves a draft of a page called “Activity Feed” which you can publish and rename as you wish (eg. Home).
- For showing the Employee Directory (with a custom Search Bar to find employees by name) you can include the [employees] shortcode in the Text tab of the main editor box of any page you wish to create yourself. The recommended size for the Employee Photos (find settings in the Dashboard under “Users / Employee Photos” menu) is 100 x 100 pixels. There are also “Employees”, “Employee Birthdays”, and many other widgets available in the Appearance / Widgets area providing employee listings, search etc.. in your sidebar or widget areas of your theme.
- To allow the Activity Feed to work, you will need to enable comments on Pages. (see “Settings / Discussion”). To disable comments (that show in the Activity Feed) on certain pages, go to the top right area of your Dashboard, and click on “Screen Options” and check, “Discussion”. Then go to each page you want to disable comments on and at the bottom of the page, uncheck “Allow comments” under the “Discussion” heading.
- You will find your Events Calendar in the /events page of your installation (there are no shortcodes with our Calendar). You can make multiple calendars using the Categories feature under the Events menu. See the Events / Settings area for more options.
- You can create online forms under Dashboard / Forms / New Form and follow the tutorial.
- To create new user roles or what we call Groups, you can visit Users / Groups click “Add New” at the top to create custom roles and assign your own user capabilities.
- To manage privacy settings and site-wide protection of your intranet, go to Settings / Groups.